Censorship and tyranny in ‘liberated’ Iraq

13 Aug

I can remember hearing fluffy fairy tales of exporting democracy and liberty to Iraq when the war drums started beating seven years ago. We would be greeted with flowers, as liberators, and as overthrowers of the evil Saddam regime; it would be a “cakewalk.” Saddam’s tyranny may be gone, but six years later, it is simply being replaced under Iraq’s new “free” government:

Moves by Iraq’s government to control the flow of information both in print and online have raised fears of a crackdown on free speech reminiscent of the regime of ex-dictator Saddam Hussein.

A decision to screen imported books and plans for Internet filters are being seen by intellectuals as a sign that the years of freer expression ushered in by the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam could be coming to an end.

Not content with just condoning the stifling of free speech and good, old fashioned book burning, the Iraqi government has also banned smoking:

So once parliament reconvenes next month and approves the law, Iraqis could encounter a sight familiar in New York, London, Hong Kong and every other city where smoking is restricted — smokers huddled outside their office buildings and puffing away. That would have been risky when bombings, drive-by shootings and kidnappings were commonplace.

These trends actually make sense. The US imposes draconian restrictions on free speech and vices here at home, so why not export it half a world away?

The war planners in the White House, Congress, the media, and the Pentagon may cheer on the expansion of our empire, but the 5,000 dead US soldiers (and counting) and thousands more (and counting) crippled and maimed in Iraq may disagree.

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